Leader of the Enlightened Christian Gathering Church and self-proclaimed prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife, Mary, stand to lose millions of rand if they do not present themselves to the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.
They will lose property which includes an aircraft and a mansion, as well as forfeit their combined bail of R400 000.
The couple fled the country to Malawi last week, contravening their bail conditions. They are facing charges of fraud, corruption and money-laundering involving more than R100-million.
The Bushiris handed themselves over to the Malawian police on Wednesday following a warrant of arrest issued by the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court.
However, they are unlikely to be back in South Africa today as they are also expected to appear in a court in the Malawian capital Lilongwe to apply for bail while they await the beginning of the process to extradite them to South Africa, as outlined in the video below:
Bushiris understand legal implications
Bushiri’s lawyer Terrance Ntsako Baloyi says the self-proclaimed prophet and his wife will abide by the rules of the law.
Baloyi said the couple handing themselves over to law enforcement is all part of their plan that Bushiri had announced during his virtual media briefing on Saturday.
He said he is confident that the Bushiris understand the legal implications of their actions, and that he will abide by the law.
Speaking to SABC News shortly after the news of their arrest, Baloyi said the Bushiri handed himself in as he believes he did not commit a crime.
Baloyi added that the Bushiris want to clear their name:
Malawi’s extradition laws
Malawi’s law allows for the extradition of accused persons to another country. However, this only happens after authorities establish that the persons face extraditable charges.
While Malawi is a signatory to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocols on Extradition, its local laws still apply. It must be determined if the charges the Bushiris face constitute extraditable offences under the law.
Malawi’s Extradition Act says that processes will begin at the lower Magistrate’s Court with expectations of appeals and the like before a higher court can make the final decision.
Bushiri has denied the allegations and is expected to argue that he didn’t commit the said crimes.
The legal process can take up to several years.
-Additional reporting by Liela Magnus & Noma Bolani